A little while ago I wrote a short story for the L. Ron Hubbard "Writers of the Future Contest". I did not win, and I know why, my story is really more horror than Science Fiction or Fantasy. But I decided that I will post each chapter here on my blog. There are 37 very short chapters, for a total of 15,000 words, about a fifth of a modern novel. Here is the start.
“Can you tell me what is going on?” Maxwell knew he couldn't trust what was sitting next to him, and probably for however long he went on living he would never again trust a clown, but answers (truthful or not) might be able to send him in a direction outside the pointless circles he had been making through the park.
“Maybe,” replied Ernie the Clown with a sort of forlorn tone to his voice. “I was eating at a diner, or at least I was sitting in a diner, and as I was going to storm out because of the bad service. I decided to go complain, so I pushed open the door to the kitchen and…” Ernie the Clown paused before laughing loudly and powerfully about the whole thing.
When Ernie the Clown had stopped his boisterous laughter, which had caused Maxwell to cradle his bat quite closely, Maxwell asked: “And?”
“Oh, yeah, well I stood there, dumbstruck. The kitchen was empty except for one girl in a waitress outfit, but it was an over the top outfit, giant bows, lots of mismatched dots and plaids. Her face was all painted up, with a huge red smile and white face, and just as I decided that I was scared enough to try and run, she was on me, and had stabbed me straight through to the back of my skull.” Ernie the Clown then began to laugh again, and punctuated the laugh by saying: “Hurt like hell. Sure am glad I’ll never have to worry about anything like that again.”
Maxwell moved one hand to the handle of the knife in his pocket, the other to his handgun, which he didn't know if it had a round chambered or not, another thing he was cursing himself for. “Well, what are you doing here?” Nothing Maxwell had heard made him feel any more at rest, any more at peace with his surroundings, or had given him hope of an exit.
“You know, I’m not sure if it was like falling or being carried. Maybe it was like being dragged. But when it was over I remember being here, and being told by someone to talk to you.”
“Who told you that, Ernie? Who told you to talk to me?”
“The guy in the Crooked House told me to go to the knife throwing table afterwards - said that with my looks it would be the attraction for me.” Ernie the Clown began laughing again, and ended with an odd smile. “Did you happen to pass that both on your way around? I’m not sure where it is.”
Maxwell pointed to where he had been a few hours before. He had remembered the sight because it mostly had consisted of a sign, a bloody table, and a basket of blood stained knives. “Think I saw it back that way a while ago. You’ll know it if you see it.”
“Thanks.” And with that Ernie the Clown got up, and began a strange and disjointed walk/skip/frolic toward his own little corner of this place, leaving Maxwell sitting on the bench, holding his bat, and wondering where and what the Crooked House was.